WHY WE LOVE SIGOURNEY WEAVER
Our first experience working with Sigourney Weaver was on ALIENS, in 1985. It was the opportunity of a career, a bunch of 20 something guys shipping off to London to work for Stan Winston and James Cameron on a sequel to one of the best sci-fi movies ever.
Sigourney Weaver had made her mark in ALIEN, and more recently GHOSTBUSTERS. She was the epitome of slender, high cheek boned, statuesque Hollywood elegance. And in person she topped an intimidating 6 feet tall in her Ripley boots.
Pictured above: Sigourney Weaver as "Ellen Ripley" in Ridley Scott's ALIEN.
Pictured above: Sigourney Weaver wrestles with Stan Winston's Alien Queen in James Cameron's ALIENS.
SERIOUS ABOUT SCI-FI
Tom designed the dream sequence Chestburster, one of the first effects we shot with Sigourney on ALIENS. She was very serious about feeling the reality of the moment despite the rubber contraption with Tom attached to it. One of the great things about Sigourney is her ability to filter out all the extraneous stuff that goes into effects filmmaking. She makes the audience believe what’s happening, and that makes our effects look better.
Pictured above: Ripley's chestburster nightmare from ALIENS. Puppeteered by Tom Woodruff Jr. as part of Stan Winston's ALIENS crew.
AN INVITATION TO THE ANIMAL HOUSE
We started to see the down to earth side of her when she accepted Shane Mahan’s invitation to our house party at the Rose Cottage in Windsor. It was a big old place in the country where a bunch of us stayed. We cleaned up the obvious Animal House decor and felt rather sophisticated when Ms. Weaver, Mr. Henriksen and much of the cast showed up. Steve Martin, who was at Pinewood on LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS, declined, probably because of Shane’s unintentionally creepy invitation slid under his dressing room door.
REUNITED ON ALIEN³
By ALIEN³ in 1991, we were Sigourney’s old pals. At least we felt like we were. Don’t really know how she felt. She acted nice, but then again, she does have an Oscar for that. We had to create a full body dummy of her for the show, so we needed her face cast. She held Tom’s hand through much of the process, because she was apprehensive. The final dummy had a little nervous smile that we thought was endearing.
Pictured above: Alec Gillis life-casts a hesitant Sigourney Weaver for a Ripley dummy used in ALIEN³.
IT'S HARD TO MAKE SIGOURNEY HATE YOU
Another time she showed us an expensive vase she knocked over in her rental house and felt terrible, so she had just gotten it painstakingly repaired. I saw an old plate from the Pinewood Canteen, turned my back and shattered on the ground. Her face went white, and I couldn’t drag out the prank any longer. I produced the intact vase, and she gave me the exasperated mom look. In retrospect, I’m not so sure that joke was funny. But what we learned was that it’s hard to make Sigourney hate you.
Pictured above: Sigourney reunites with the xenomorph for David Fincher's ALIEN³ -- Alien FX by Amalgamated Dynamics, Inc.
Pictured above: David Fincher directs Sigourney Weaver on the set of ALIEN³ as Tom Woodruff, Jr. suits up.
Pictured above: An ALIENS reunion. Alec Gillis & Tom Woodruff Jr. (in suit) pose with Sigourney Weaver on the set of ALIEN³.
ALIEN RESURRECTION - TOM POSES 'NUDE' WITH SIGOURNEY
ALIEN RESURRECTION was perhaps the most fun. Maybe it was Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s Joi de vivre, his bon vivance, his je ne sais quois, or perhaps just his goofy charm. Whatever, the set was light and Siglet (yes, I said Siglet) was having fun. She noticed that we didn’t have many women on the crew. We explained the reason: we were sexist pigs. She couldn’t accept that logic, so it was one of her fave topics to bust our chops about. There were also plenty of childish jokes flying as Tom posed nude with Sigourney for a Vanity Fair spread. Unfortunately for Tom “nude” meant wearing the cold, slimy Alien suit. Unfortunately for all of us, no one has seen any of the photos from that shoot. We’re not even sure Darius Kondji had film in the camera. He was pretty funny too.
Pictured above: Sigourney and Tom Woodruff, Jr. (in suit) see eye to eye socket on the set of ALIEN: RESURRECTION.
Pictured above: Sigourney Weaver & Tom Woodruff Jr. get cozy on the set of ALIEN: RESURRECTION.
Pictured above: Tom Woodruff Jr. prepares to puppeteer a facehugger attack on his good friend, Sigourney Weaver on the set of ALIEN: RESURRECTION.
Pictured above: Tom Woodruff Jr. and Sigourney Weaver on the set of ALIEN: RESURRECTION. Watch the video above to see why Tom's got his hand on Sigourney's neck.
Pictured above: Sigourney Weaver teaches Alec Gillis French on the set of ALIEN: RESURRECTION. (Watch the video and you'll know what we're talking about.)
A MOST GRACIOUS QUEEN
Our last professional encounter with Sigourney was at the premiere of ALIEN RESSURRECTION. She was on the red carpet, 100 cameras flashing, and she called us over. “These are the geniuses that created the Creatures!” she graciously told the press. While we posed for photos with her, she whispered through that dazzling smile, “Does this dress make me look like a drag queen?”
That’s why we love Sigourney.
-Alec Gillis & Tom Woodruff, Jr.
MORE ALIENS STUFF FROM STAN WINSTON SCHOOL:
FOLLOW AMALGAMATED DYNAMICS INC (ADI)
MORE FROM ALEC GILLIS AT STAN WINSTON SCHOOL:
MORE FROM TOM WOODRUFF JR AT STAN WINSTON SCHOOL: